Silent Night, Holy Night
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon virgin, mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Written by Joseph Mohr, arranged by Franz Gruber
The beautiful hymn has blessed the hearts of people at Christmastime since Father Joseph Mohr first wrote the lovely song.
December 24, 1818: Father Joseph Mohr first performed his song ‘Silent Night’ 201 years ago. Nearly a century later, in 1914, German soldiers on the Western Front sang the hymn from the trenches and were joined by their British opponents. ~ Goodreads
On a crisp, clear morning 105 years ago, thousands of British, Belgian and French soldiers put down their rifles, stepped out of their trenches and spent Christmas mingling with their German enemies along the Western front. In the hundred years since, the event has been seen as a kind of miracle, a rare moment of peace just a few months into a war that would eventually claim over 35 million lives. But what actually happened on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of 1914?
Pope Benedict XV, who took office that September, had originally called for a Christmas truce, an idea that was officially rejected. Yet it seems the sheer misery of daily life in the cold, wet, dull trenches was enough to motivate troops to initiate the truce on their own — which means that it’s hard to pin down exactly what happened. A huge range of differing oral accounts, diary entries and letters home from those who took part make it virtually impossible to speak of a “typical” Christmas truce as it took place across the Western front. To this day historians continue to disagree over the specifics: no one knows where it began or how it spread, or if, by some curious festive magic, it broke out simultaneously across the trenches. Nevertheless, some two-thirds of troops — about 100,000 people — are believed to have participated in the legendary truce.
Most accounts suggest the truce began with carol singing from the trenches on Christmas Eve, “a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere”, as Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled, in a document later rounded up by the New York Times. Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade described it in even greater detail.
“First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words Adeste Fideles. And I thought, well, this is really a most extraordinary thing – two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.”*
Certainly ‘Silent Night’ was one of the carols sung by the troops on that Christmas Eve in 1914, bringing joy and peace to the war-torn, weary soldiers.
Bethabara Faith Ministry sends Christmas Greetings to all our friends and neighbors. We wish you peace and joy through the holiday season and blessings for the New Year.
*Taken from Times Magazine online.